In the portion of the Torah read this week, we are told that Jacob prepared to encounter Esau by sending him a gift. After sending the gift on ahead:

"He arose that night and took his two wives and two handmaidens and eleven children and crossed over the Jabbok river crossing." (Gen. 32:23)

As you know, the mentality of Abba [enters] the mentality of Imma, and the yesod of Abba extends further down than the yesod of Imma.

The insight of chochma is the "raw material" of bina

The insight of chochma is the "raw material" of bina and the content that it processes. Inasmuch as this fundamental insight is the original spark of inspiration, its yesod, or drive for self-actualization, is greater and extends further than that of bina.

Now, the mentality of Abba does not fully enter [the mentality of Imma] until the immature mentality is expelled.

The purpose of the investment of the mentality of Abba in that of Imma is in order that they both become transformed into the mental power of Zeir Anpin. As we know, the purpose of any intellectual insight or resulting revamping of one's word-view is in order that this remake him as a person, and the measure of that is the extent to which his emotional relationship and response to reality is recreated.

The development of the mentality of Zeir Anpin, however, progresses through three stages: embryonic mentality, nursing mentality, and mature mentality. The progression from one stage to the next is predicated on the displacement of the old mentality by the new one.

The immature mentality is first displaced to the throat. As you know, the immature mentality consists of three names Elokim, while the mature mentality consists of three names Havayah. Each name Havayah rectifies one name Elokim. The name Havayah denotes revelation…

The name Elokim denotes tzimtzum, or contracted consciousness. Just as in educating a child, the child can at first only assimilate the most superficial aspects of the parents' intellect, so can Zeir Anpin at first only accept a contracted version of the mentality of Imma (in which is enclothed the mentality of Abba, as we have said). Thus, the manifestation of the three mental powers of chochma, bina, and daat in Zeir Anpin is in the form the name Elokim. In contrast, the name Havayah denotes revelation, and therefore the mature mentality is manifest as three names Havayah.

The yesod of Abba extends beyond both the immature and mature mentalities, descending below the level of the chest [of Zeir Anpin].

The mature mentality of Zeir Anpin is vested in its head, while, as we said, its immature mentality has descended to the level of its throat. However, the yesod of Abba extends further than either state of mentality. The initial insight, although a primarily intellectual experience, contains within it an element of consciousness that transcends intellect, and therefore is not limited to it.

Now, [the combined numerical value of] Havayah and Elokim is the same as that of "Jabbok", and this yesod [of Abba] extends further than both.

Havayah (yud-hei-vav-hei) = 10 + 5 + 6 + 5 = 26;
Elokim (alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem) = 1 + 30 + 5 + 10 + 40 = 86;

26 + 86 = 112;

Jabbok (yud-beit-kuf) = 10 + 2 + 100 = 112.

This, then, is the mystical meaning of the phrase "the Jabbok river crossing." (Ibid.) After this, [the partzuf of] Ya'akov issued from [this light] that was revealed from yesod of Abba [after it extends] outward. This verse refers to him [i.e., this Ya'akov].

...a secondary partzuf of Ya'akov develops out of Zeir Anpin.

As we explained previously, a secondary partzuf of Ya'akov (Hebrew for "Jacob") develops out of Zeir Anpin.

Know also that there are four mystical aspects of Jabbok:

1. [The combined numerical values of] the names Havayah and Elokim, [as we have said].

2. [The combined numerical values of] the names Eh-yeh, Havayah, and Ado-nai.

The numerical value of the name Eh-yeh (alef-hei-yud-hei, 1 + 5 + 10 + 5) is 21.
(And as before) Havayah (yud-hei-vav-hei) = 10 + 5 + 6 + 5 = 26;
The numerical value of the name Ado-nai (alef-dalet-nun-yud) is 65.

21 + 26 + 65 = 112.

3. The numerical value of the square spelling-out of the name Havayah is 184. If we subtract 72 from this number, the remainder is 112.

"Squaring" a word in Kabbala means developing the word from its first letter, progressively adding one more letter at each step. Thus, the "square" of the name Havayah (yud-hei-vav-hei) would be:

yud, yud-hei, yud-hei-vav, yud-hei-vav-hei.

When these stages are each spelled out (using the letter yud), we have:

yud-vav-dalet, yud-vav-dalet hei-yud, yud-vav-dalet hei-yud vav-yud-dalet, yud-vav-dalet hei-yud vav-yud-dalet hei-yud.

Numerically, this translates into:

4(10+6+4) + 3(5+10) + 2(6+10+6) + 1(5+10)
= 4(20) + 3(15) + 2(22) + 1(15)
= 80 + 45 + 44 + 15
= 184.

If we subtract the value of the spelling-out of the four letters of the name Havayah (using the letter yud), i.e., 72, we are left with 112.

4. The numerical value of [first three letters of the name Havayah,] yud-hei-vav, when they are spelled out with the letter yud in the squared fashion is 112.

The first three letters of the name Havayah are the three unique letters used to spell this name; the final hei is a repeat of the of the first hei and is therefore in a certain sense not considered as much a part of the essence of the Name as the first three letters. These first three letters are therefore, in certain contexts, treated as a sort of divine name by themselves. Psychologically, this would refer to the powers of the soul themselves (yud: chochma; hei: bina; vav: midot), not considering their expression (the final hei).

The Jabbok River is associated with the struggle between good and evil…

The numerical value of the spelling out of the squaring of this three-letter combination is as follows:

yud-vav-dalet, yud-vav-dalet hei-yud, yud-vav-dalet hei-yud vav-yud-vav (10+6+4, 10+6+4 5+10, 10+6+4 5+10 6+10+6) = 112.

As we have explained previously, the Jabbok River is associated with the struggle between good and evil, since it was there that Jacob wrestled with the angel of Esau (as is described in the following verses). We have now caught a glimpse of what this means in terms of the mystical dynamics of the universe. Although evil can make inroads and attempt to gain a foothold via the intellect, the most dangerous confrontation between good and evil occurs at the level of the emotions. Precisely because the emotions are such a pivotal part of the psyche, it is also most crucial that the battle be won at this level.

This, of course, is because the intellect is by nature more abstract and objective. The more subjective nature of the emotions make them the "Jacob's heel" where evil can gain a foothold. At the emotional level the individual is far more likely to make choices based on "what's good for me" than "what is good" objectively. This renders him open to self-centeredness, which diverts his consciousness from G‑d, which is in turn the source of evil.

Thus, we see that Jacob, the progenitor of the Jewish people, does not come into his own as a partzuf until yesod of Abba, the drive of the initial divine thought or conception of creation, traverses the intellect and is able to shine out unshielded and unprocessed by the intellect. It is of course crucial that the initial insight of chochma become firmly rooted in consciousness via bina and developed into the mentality of Zeir Anpin, precisely because of the struggle that is to ensue once yesod of Abba proceeds beyond its realm.

…Esau, threatened by Jacob's usurpation of his hegemony over the emotions, prepares to do battle with him.

That struggle is the struggle between Jacob and Esau; Esau does not seek to attack Jacob until he has completed his developmental stage of intellectualization of the insight and has emerged from it ready to enter the Land of Israel, the land of the seven pagan nations or native, unrectified emotions, in order to conquer it for holiness. When Jacob left the land of Israel originally he went to study Torah in the yeshiva of Shem and Eber, and our sages also tell us that Jacob studied Torah while tending Laban's flock as well. Thus, his entire sojourn outside the Land of Israel until this point can be envisioned as the process of the maturation of the intellect. This having been accomplished, Jacob turns his attention to the land of the emotions, and it is here that Esau, threatened by Jacob's usurpation of his hegemony over the emotions, prepares to do battle with him.

* * *

The next verses in the Torah read: He took them and passed them over the brook, and did the same with his possessions. And Jacob was left alone, and a person wrestled with him until dawn. (Ibid. 32:24-25)

Our sages state that [the reason Jacob remained behind was because] he went back to retrieve his small jars [and the like]. (Chulin 91a) Righteous people value their possessions…

As is known, the soul of a righteous individual comprises 248 [spiritual] members, each one of which possesses sparks from a number of the souls of [other] righteous individuals. All the divine beneficence that is granted to him is given as well for the sake of all [the souls of those other righteous people] who are dependent upon him. This is why righteous people value their possessions, since [they are aware that] it is granted them from above.

According to the sages, there are 248 members (limbs and organs) of the physical body. Inasmuch as the soul possesses powers exactly corresponding to these 248 members, which it enlivens, we may speak of 248 spiritual limbs of the soul. By fulfilling his mission in this world, the righteous person is completing the work begun by the righteous people who preceded him, and in this sense may be considered to be actualizing the potentials of these souls and endowing them with a measure of completion and fulfillment they did not realize while they were in their own bodies. Jacob…made sure to enlist the merit of all righteous souls in the cosmic battle between good and evil…

Cognizant of this, a righteous person will realize that all the divine beneficence granted to him during his life is not merely for the sake of fulfilling his own personal mission in this world, but for completing the mission of others who preceded him, as well. He will value his possessions not only because they allow him to accomplish his purpose in revealing divinity in the world but also because they allow him to enhance the stature and state of completion of the souls of those who preceded him.

It is not fitting that a righteous person disdain such things, for if nothing could be accomplished by giving them to him, G‑d would not have given them to him.

This is therefore why Jacob returned to collect the small jars [and the like], for had he not returned, it would have appeared as though he did not value them. Everything granted to a person from above must be cared for. He therefore went back for them, in order to show how dear they were to him.

As he prepared to do battle with Esau's angel, Jacob summoned all the G‑dly energy he needed for this battle. Always cognizant of his own lack of merit, he made sure to enlist the merit of all righteous souls in the cosmic battle between good and evil, at whatever level. This is signified by his attention to detail, how he valued the elements of other's struggle within his own.

Likewise, in each individual's personal struggle with evil, it is paramount that we recall that we wage the war not on our own merits alone, but upon the merits of the righteous of all generations combined with our own. Also, we should realize the centrality and importance of our individual struggles; through our efforts, the efforts of all generations are given meaning and, hopefully, fulfilled.


Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaPesukim, Sefer HaLikutim, and Likutei Torah; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard."

Reprinted with permission from Chabad of California. Copyright 2004 by Chabad of California, Inc. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, without permission, in writing, from Chabad of California, Inc.